Band Instrument Rip-offs

by Cathy B.

At this time of year, many new "band parents" are scrambling trying to find suitable and affordable band instruments for their children. I was overwhelmed when my first child entered band and I was left paying about $40 month rental for her clarinet. (I was not certain that she would stay in band, so I didn't want to commit to buying an instrument.) She DID stay in band, and over a three-year period, I paid approximately $1300 for a clarinet (that I now own) I could have bought for approximately half that price through a mail-order source, had I been aware of such a thing.

I have compiled a list of mail-order sources for band instruments and obtained catalogs and literature from all of them. I am sure there are more, but these were the ones I had feedback on from others by way of newsgroups and mailing lists. I paid approximately $650 for my second daughter's intermediate wooden clarinet (purchased through mail-order) that I was going to have to pay $1025 for through a local store. (The older daughter's clarinet cost even more....because of monthly maintenance fees and "carrying charges.")

My suggestion to frugal parents (who are interested in purchasing a new, instead of used instrument) is to find out what brand and model instrument your band director wants your child to obtain, and check prices with these companies before buying through a local music store. (Some stores will match the mail-order prices, if you ask.) In my community, students are encouraged to begin on an intermediate-level clarinet as opposed to the "student" model. The student model (which is quite acceptable in many communities) is available from mail- order for approximately $300 plus the mouthpiece and ligature set-up.

Another less expensive option is to purchase a "used" instrument on your own. This can be less expensive but more complicated than purchasing a used instrument through a music store. For those who are interested in buying "used" instruments, close contact with someone who knows the instrument is advisable. (I purchased a back-up student clarinet through the eBay auction site for $126. I'm quite pleased with the purchase and would do it again, but caution is necessary when purchasing a used instrument "sight-unseen.")

Following is my "mail-order" list. I have no affiliation with any of the companies. I have just heard of them and have obtained literature, or spoken with representatives of each (and purchased from one).

Mail Order Companies

7845 Maltlage Drive
Liverpool, NY 13090
1-800-288-2334 or
FAX 1-800-652-4534
FAX 315-652-4534

International Musical Suppliers
P.O. Box 1122
Des Plaines, IL 60017-1122
FAX 847-827-9092

Muncy Winds
Philip Muncy
P.O. Box 1274
Boone, NC 28607
(704) 963-7083
FAX: 704-963-8990

Weiner Music Co.
216 East Jericho Turnpike
Mineola, NY 11051
1-800-622-CORK (voice orders)
Customer Service: 516-747-5004
FAX: 1-516-294-4289
(No shipping charges for pre-paid accessory orders over $25, paid with check or money order...excludes some larger items.)

Wichita Band Instrument Co., Inc.
2525 East Douglas
Wichita, KS 67211
316 684-0291
Fax (316) 684-6858

Cathy is a mother who's "been there."
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